Copyright © 2011 Laura Ruiz
The next morning was Chirstmas day. Of course all the younger cousins were up early squealing with delight at their new gifts and already playing with the ones they managed to rip open. Lina was dehydrated, Abe was hungover, and the rest of the house was lazy getting up and there was a lot of cleaning and present opening to do before they could all sit and have breakfast. Lina and Abe always waited and watched their aunts and uncles open the gifts they spent the last few months gathering to give to them. Having such a large family with a small budget you either got creative in making certain things for certain people or you spent the last six months of the year saving and buying the gifts little by little. They did a little of both, and each year they watched their aunts dab their eyes or their uncles smile widely at the gifts they got them.
The label always said it was from the whole family: Lina, Abe and their parents but you could tell who chose which present for whome. Abe always got their uncle Rey his gift because they shared a love of jazz music, Lina always made their aunt Coco her gift because they shared a love for arts and crafts, and so on and so forth, but they all got a big thank you just the same. Getting 20 other gifts for all the cousins they had was a feat! Usually they would give toys they had bought while in Mexico, it turned out cheaper that way, and for the older cousins they would wait until after breakfast and all go clothes or accessory shopping downtown. Faster, cheaper, and everyone was happy with their gift. Lina and Abe would both get one present each from their family pooling together some money so it was always something special. This year, Lina got a scrapbook set complete with stamps and stickers and even some candid shots of her with all her cousins during her visit so far.
"Oh wow this is amazing! Thank you everyone!" she was so excited she wanted to flip through and put the pictures in that very moment, they knew her well. Everyone just laughed at her reaction, happy to see they had gotten her something she loved. How they managed to get the pictures and develop them without her knowing was beyond her. She loved them all the more for it though. Abe of course got a new video game.
"This is so awesome! i can go home now right?" he joked as he flipped the little box between his hands reading the back and opening it to flip through the rest of it. Everyone just laughed and gave him light smacks upside his head or on his arms.
Lina and Abe's dad still gave them the tongue lashing of their lives. He screamed and scolded and turned red with anger and frustration that everyone had let his children get drunk despite him being against it... again. It wasn't a big deal in Mexico, it happened almost every holiday as soon as they turned fifteen. Everyone got a piece of his speech as they cleaned and started breakfast.
Breakfast was awkward of course. As soon as everyone finished and Lina and Dani washed all the dishes, they along with Abe, Toni, and Denisse bolted out the door and down the street to the park. They just needed and wanted to get away and get some fresh air.
"I forgot how your dad gets sometimes." Toni chuckled as he picked up a basketball someone left behind and started dribbling it across the park as they walked. Being the youngest of their aunts and uncles he was often treated as one of the cousins instead, always hanging out and talking with everyone like they grew up together. They practically had, except he was almost 5 years older then Lina, but he taught her how to dance and he knew every cousins secrets: boyfriends, girlfriends, who was still a virgin, you name it he knew it but he always kept it to himself. They all confided in him and asked his opinion on almost everything so as close as they all were it was practically like they'd grown up together.
"Yea... he can be such a pain sometimes. He pisses both of us off a lot now." Abe laughed as Lina giggled at his comment. It was true. Their dad had a way of raising their defenses sometimes.
"He does it for your own good, so don't be too hard on the old man" Toni laughed. Always with the on-going joke about their dad's age. Truthfully he was only in his late thirties and wasn't that old, but he was old fashioned and strict so Toni always regarded him as an old man, even to his face. That had them all laughing as they climbed over the playground equipment.